Rural Nebraska Economy Grows, Survey Finds | Nebraska

(The Center Square) – The economy is doing well in the agricultural belt, including Nebraska, according to a recent poll.

Low interest rates, growing agricultural exports and high grain prices are all contributing to growth in rural areas of 10 plains and western states, according to a new monthly survey by Creighton University of bankers, The Associated Press reported.

The region’s economic index rose in October to 66.1 from 62.5 in September, the AP reported. Anything over 50 indicates an expanding economy, according to the AP.

“It has been appealing to be in rural areas during the COVID pandemic,” said Rex Nelson, extension educator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in The Center Square. “In general, it’s been less serious. The rural states have handled it pretty well. I feel good about the way it’s been handled in Nebraska. It’s a good, safe place.”

Rural economies have been “virtually unscathed” from the pandemic, according to Nelson.

“Nebraska’s economy has hardly declined,” he said.

At the start of the pandemic, the meat processing sector faced challenges with the pandemic.

“But for the most part, they got the job done,” Nelson said. “The shutdown was brief. They recovered quickly. They didn’t have the luxury of quarantining themselves.”

Challenges remain in rural areas, including a shortage of workers and affordable housing, Nelson said.

“It costs more to build, it costs more to supply, and if you don’t have 50 houses to build, you don’t have economies of scale,” Nelson said. “The price of the product is higher and the average income is lower. There is a lag there that makes it very difficult to build affordable housing.

The Creighton University survey found demand for workers is high and companies are struggling to find people to hire, the AP reported. Creighton interviewed bankers in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, according to the article.

About Keneth T. Graves

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